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Historic bok tower and Sanctuary - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Other Florida

If you want to get away from it all and enjoy a little bit of peace and tranquillity then take yourself down the 27 to Bok Tower and Sanctuary.

I must stress that this is a very gentle day out and may not be suitable for lively teens accustomed to the white knuckle rides on offer at some of the bigger theme parks.

Edward William Bok who passed away in 1930 at the age of 67 had come from the Netherlands when he was 6 and went into printing as a young man. America was obviously the land of opportunity for him for with diligence and hard work he became a successful and wealthy printer and was able to use his wealth to champion many social causes. He spent his retirement doing many good works and in 1929 President Coolidge dedicated The Sanctuary that Bok had given to the American people in recognition of his gratitude for the opportunities the country had given him, when he died a year later he was buried at the base of the tower.

The gardens were landscaped by Frederic Olmsted and provide a perfect backdrop for observing the beautiful flora and fauna of the region as well as providing family friendly areas where children can look for wildlife and watch butterflies visiting the azaleas, camellias and magnolia blossoms.

Situated in the garden is the Singing Tower a 205 feet gothic and art deco Carillion tower. This tower is not open to the public as it’s purpose is to house the carillon which is a musical instrument with at least 2 octaves of bells ranging in weight from 16 pounds to twelve tons. The bells are stationary, only the clappers move and are connected by a series of keys to a keyboard which is played by a carillonneur. There have only been three carillonneurs in the history of Bok Tower. The third one William de Turk took up his position in 2004. On the day that we visited they were doing some work to the carillon and a recording was played. If I hadn’t known I don’t think I would have guessed-it was wonderful-but yes I would love to go back and hear what the real bells sound like.

Inside the tower there are several levels housing Bok’s private study, the curator’s workshop a practice carillon and a private library as well as the carillon and bells themselves. It is not open to the public.

Also on the site is a museum where the public can learn to understand exactly what is housed in the tower, see a cutout of the largest bell.

On the estate there are lots of leafy trails to wander along or rest in the shade on a welcome bench while you listen to the beautiful music coming from the singing tower.

There’s a lovely little Carillon Café serving soups, salads, wraps, pastries and refreshments.

Admission is just $10 and children under 5 are free. You can hire the gardens for a wedding and the good news is that they also have an electric vehicle for disabled people to hire for just $6per hour. I do recommend that you use it-especially if you want to travel over the trails.

Carillon concerts take place at 1pm and 3pm daily and the Sanctuary closes at 5pm.

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